Don't Bet on the Apocalypse
May 20 2013
Remember those billboards that were all the rage during the summer of 2011, the ones boldly claiming the world was going to end on May 21 of that year? When that didn't come to pass, they moved the goal posts a bit, because they forgot to carry a one or something, to October 21. And, as you now well know, that also proved to be false. Those predictions were put together by a California-based Christian cult called Family Radio Worldwide. (I interviewed one of them about it a while back.) Now, the religious group is destitute, because they spent all their money that summer thinking there'd be no need for cash post-Rapture.
While it's easy to feel pleased with this news—charlatans getting their comeuppance always feels nice—it was no fun realizing that Family Radio was funded exclusively by listener donations. That means the estimated $100 million spent on billboards and commercials a few summers ago was not coming from the pockets of their own Board of Directors or some kind of insane hedge-fund gambling that this "end of time" prophecy was going to be right, but instead by the true believers among us. Which, if you've ever visited a church on a weekday morning, when only the most devout are littering the pews, means the money came from the generally less fortunate, the simple-minded, and the elderly looking for hope of continued existence after their final days. The ones with little money to spare. The same folks who throw their money away at state lotteries. But in that, at least they have a shot of winning, albeit an extremely long one. In the game of Which Prophet Is Telling the Truth?, there's never a winner.
Onto the roundup!
- A 49-year-old pastor at a church was arrested for downloading and viewing child porn while at his other job, which is working as a custodian... at Disney World.
- In Pakistan, a pair of bombs that exploded near mosques killing at least 15 people, while injuring at least another 100.
- Three Georgian soldiers (the country, not the state) were killed after a suicide bomber rammed his rigged-up-with-bombs truck into their base in Afghanistan. Later in Afghanistan, the Taliban killed three US soldiers with a roadside bomb. Still later, a pair of suicide bombings killed at least 16 people.
- On the subject of Georgia (the country, not the state), the Eastern European nation had themselves an antihomosexual protest march on Friday, which ended in a whole lot of rioting.
- Pat Robertson's advice to women on how to deal with their cheating men? Suck it up and fix the home you're living in, because he's a man and he has needs, and if you're not fulfilling them, he will look elsewhere.
- Awesomely named Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has declared the country to be in a state of emergency, in order to send troops to battle the current Islamic militant insurgency.
- In Iraq, gunmen using silenced weapons attacked a handful of liquor stores and killed at least 12 people in Baghdad. Folks are blaming the attack on ultraconservative Islamists who don't believe that liquor should be allowed. Later in the day, a bunch of car bombings killed at least 35 more. The next day, another 17 people were killed in a series of car bombings and gun attacks. But that was all the leadup to the big day, on Friday, when a series of bombs struck mosques in Sunni areas, killing at least 76 people, making it the deadliest day in more than eight months.
- A woman who saw Trey Parker and Matt Stone's The Book of Mormon has ignored their satirical take and instead converted to Mormonism.
- The Church of Scientology held an event to celebrate their new facility in Portland. They didn't think it was a good look to only have 450 to 700 people there, so they used their Photoshop skills to make it look more like 2,500. And failed miserably.
- A little while ago, a student athlete running the 100-meter-relay race in Texas was apparently disqualified for pointing to the sky to thank God. The right-wing media, always looking to hype some ways everyone's attacking religions, sprang into action and started condemning anyone and everyone involved. But then, with some further investigation, it was learned that the runner was actually pulling the ol' “we're number one” gesture, and was DQ'd for rubbing it in the faces of his opponents. But the aforementioned right wing media folks kind of just ignored this last little bit and continued beating the drum of Religious Persecution. So it goes.
- Maybe you were following this weird story about Amy's Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro in Scottsdale, Arizona, and how the owners had themselves an old-fashioned meltdown after receiving criticism on their Facebook page? One of the stranger parts of the story is just how many references to them being chosen by the Man Upstairs there were during their rant. Things like “I AM GODS CHILD” and “WE WILL TEACH OUR CHILD EXACTLY WHAT >>GOD<< WANTS IN THEIR PATH” and “We have God on our side.”
- Bradlee Dean, one of those religious activists with a radio show, went apeshit last week after the good folks in Minnesota legalized gay marriage in their state (see below). It's a pretty epic rant that any kind of summary here won't do justice, so I'll just suggest listening to it.
- And Our Persons of the Week: The folks in Minnesota, who are apparently trying to make up for the fact they elected a verifiable insane person into Congress for the past six years (Michele Bachmann) by becoming the 12th state in the nation to legalize gay marriage. Well done, Minnesotans.
- And a bonus Person of the Week: The always-great George Takei, who went on Imgur, some kind of photo-based social network, and responded to a bunch of people's proclamations about why they love “traditional” marriage. Give 'em hell, George!
Previously - Obama Governs Like Bush on Reproductive Rights
The Story Behind Nas's 'Illmatic' Is Almost as Great as the Album Itself
OK, So I Have a Drinking Problem
We Met the World's Leading Authority on Bootleg Bart Simpson T-Shirts
The US Prison System Is Shrinking, but Very, Very Slowly
The Story of Dakota Joe, a Jailbird on the Appalachian Trail
Meeting the Man Who Cared for Survivors of Anders Behring Breivik's Killing Spree in Oslo
The Alternative Miss World Beauty Pageant Prefers Bitchy Quips to Bikinis
I Relived My First Week of College to See if Students Have Changed
Tropical Diseases Are Keeping Americans in Poverty
On the Ground at Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Protests